Nelson charity devastated, considering fees after people fight over toys at Christmas giveaway event  

A charity gift giveaway in Nelson turned ugly with adults pushing, snatching toys off each other and clambering over tables to "guard" their items.  

Helping Families founder Kristy Rowe said the charity holds a gift giveaway twice a year to help struggling families and has never had an issue - until this year.  

The event allows families to pick out new and second-hand toys ahead of Christmas and was held in early December at the Waimea Lounge at the A&P Showground in Richmond. 

Rowe said there was "unprecedented" demand with more than 500 people turning up, but some attendees' behaviour left a lot to be desired. 

She said all the toys were cleared out after 30 minutes and they were forced to shut their doors. It wasn't until Facebook messages started flowing in later that Rowe became aware of some of the worst behaviour.  

She said there were reports of people pushing, standing over tables to stop other people getting items and fighting.  

"People were pushing and shoving and guarding tables while they kept looking and not letting anyone else look. I don't have any words, actually," Rowe said.  

She said the behaviour was incredibly "frustrating and disheartening" and there was "no need for it".  

"We are a small charity in comparison to some of the more well-known ones, but we're big for our community. And to hear how others were treated... Everybody is struggling in one way or another, whether we can see it or not, but it doesn't mean that you can treat others poorly," she added. 

She said there has never been an issue at any previous events but she's definitely seeing more "greed" and poor behaviour recently with staff increasingly facing abuse.  

"It's really frustrating and disheartening. I started the charity five and a half years ago to help people, just general people, who are going through a tough time... it's not their fault.  

"Now it's sort of changed. We're definitely seeing more greed. There's no need for it. I think everyone needs to sort of practice a bit more patience and calmness." 

She said while she would like to say it wouldn't, the behaviour at the recent event will probably change how she carries out future ones.  

"How it will change? I don't know. That's something that we will be working on. There might be a small cost involved."  

It comes as New Zealand battles a cost of living crisis and persistently stubborn inflation. A recent report revealed the number of Kiwis who are behind on their mortgages is increasing and more are relying on credit ahead of Christmas.